Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vesper Homily for the feast of Blessed Apostles Peter & Paul

Vesper Homily for the feast of Blessed Apostles Peter & Paul
Dear brothers and sisters,

we are gathered at the tomb of St. Paul, who was born two thousand years ago, in Tarsus of Cilicia, in today Turkey. Who was this Paul? In the temple of Jerusalem, in front of the agitated crowd who wanted to kill him, he presents himself with these words: "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but grew up in this city [Jerusalem], trained in the school Gamaliele in stricter rules of law father, full of zeal for God… "(Acts 22.3). At the end of his journey will say of himself: "I was done… teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth" (1 Tim 2.7; cf. 2 Tim 1:11). Master of nations, auctioneer and apostle of Jesus Christ, as he characterizes himself in a look back to the path of his life. But with what our gaze not only to the past. 'Master of nations "- this word opens to the future, to all peoples and all generations. Paul is not for us a figure of the past, that we remember with reverence. He is also our teacher, auctioneer and apostle of Jesus Christ for us. So we are not gathered to reflect on a past history, irrevocably overcome. Paul wants to talk to us - today. That is why I wanted to hold this special "Year Paolino" means to listen and to learn from him hours, as our teacher, "the faith and truth," which are rooted in the reasons for unity among the disciples of Christ. With this in mind I wanted to turn, so two thousandth anniversary of the birth of the Apostle, a special "Flame Pauline", which will remain lit throughout the year in a special place in the brazier quadriportico of the Basilica. For solennizzare this occasion I also inaugurated the so-called "Gateway Pauline" through which they entered the Basilica accompanied by the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Cardinal Archpriest and other religious authorities. It gives me cause for deep joy that the opening of ' "Year Paolino" takes a special ecumenical character for the presence of many delegates and representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, that I welcome with open hearts. I greet in the first place His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I and the members of the delegation that accompanies him, as well as the large group of lay people who from various parts of the world have come to Rome to live with him and with us all these moments of prayer and reflection . I greet the Fraternal Delegates of Churches that have a special bond with the Apostle Paul - Jerusalem, Antioch, Cyprus, Greece - and which are the geographical environment of life's before his arrival in Rome. I cordially greet the Brothers of different Churches and Ecclesial Communities of East and West, along with all of you who have wished to take part in this solemn beginning of ' "Year" all'Apostolo dedicated to the Gentiles. We are therefore gathered here to ask the great Apostle to the Gentiles. We wonder not only: Who was Paul? We wonder above all: Who is Paul? What tells me? In this hour, at the beginning of ' "Year Paolino" we are inaugurating, I would choose the rich testimony of three New Testament texts, where it appears his inner character, the specific of his character. In the Letter to the Galatians he has given us a profession of faith very personal, which opens his heart in front of readers of all time and reveals what the spring most intimate of his life. "I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). Everything Paul ago, beginning at this centre. His faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ to all personnel, is the conscience of the fact that Christ has faced death not for something anonymous, but for love of him - Paul - and that, as Risen, still loves him, that Christ gave himself for him. His faith is being struck by love of Jesus Christ, a love that upsets early in underwear and turns. His faith is not a theory, an opinion about God and the world. His faith is the impact of God's love on her heart. And so this same faith is love for Jesus Christ. For many Paul is presented as combative man who knows how to handle the sword of the word. In fact, on its journey of Apostle there has been no lack disputes. It has tried superficial harmony. In the first of his letters, one addressed to the Thessalonians, he said: "We have had the courage… annunziarvi of the gospel of God in the midst of many struggles… in fact we never gives words of adulazione, as you know" (1 Thes 2,2.5) . The truth was too large for him to be willing to sacrifice in view of a success outside. The truth she had experienced in the encounter with the Risen well deserved for him the fight, persecution, suffering. But what is motivating him in deeper, was being loved by Jesus Christ and the desire to transmit to others that love. Paul was one capable of love, and all his work, and suffering can only be explained starting from this centre. The concepts of its founding ad consists solely on the basis of it. Take only one of its key words: freedom. The experience of being loved up at the back by Christ had opened our eyes to the truth and the path of human existence - that experience embraced everything. Paul was free as a man loved by God who, by virtue of God, was able to love with him. This love is now the "law" of his life, and so is the freedom of his life. He speaks and acts driven by the responsibility of love. Freedom and responsibility are united here so inseparable. As is the responsibility of love, he is free because it is one that loves, he lives entirely the responsibility of this love and not take freedom as a pretext for arbitrary and egoism. In the same spirit Augustine made the phrase has since become famous: Dilige et quod vis fac (Tract. in 1Jo 7 .7 to 8) - loves and does' whatever you choose. Those who love Christ as he has loved Paul, can it really do what he wants, because his love is combined with the will of Christ and so the will of God, because his will is anchored to the truth and because his will is no longer simply His desire, will dell'io autonomous, but is incorporated in the freedom of God and it receives the way forward. In the quest for inner character of St Paul I, secondly, to recall the word that the risen Christ addressed on the road to Damascus. Before the Lord asks him: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" When asked: "Who are you, Lord?" We given the answer: "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting" (Acts 9.4 s). Perseguitando Church, Paul pursued the same Jesus. "You pursued me." Jesus identifies himself with the Church in a single subject. In this exclamation of Risen, who transformed the lives of Saul, at the bottom is now contained the entire doctrine on the Church as the Body of Christ. Christ has not withdrawn in the sky, leaving the earth a host of followers who send forward "its cause." The Church is not an association that wants to promote a certain cause. It is not a cause. It is the person of Jesus Christ, who also risen remained "flesh". He "flesh and bones" (Lk 24, 39), it says in Luke the Risen before the disciples who had seen a ghost. He has a body. It is personally present in his Church, "Head and Body" form a single entity, says Augustine. "Do not you know that your bodies are members of Christ?" Writes Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 6:15). He adds: Why, according to the Book of Genesis, man and woman become one flesh, so Christ with its becomes one spirit, that is a single entity in the new world of the resurrection (cf. 1 Cor 6.16 ff). In all of this transpires the Eucharistic mystery, in which Christ gives his Body continually makes us his body: "The bread which we break, is it not a communion with the Body of Christ? Because there is only bread, we who are many, are one body all partake of bread "(1 Cor 10.16 s). With these words addressed to us, at this, not only Paul, but the Lord himself: How could you tear my body? Before the face of Christ, this word becomes both an urgent request: Riportaci together by all divisions. Fa 'which today again become reality: There is only one bread, so we though many, are one body. For Paul to speak on the Church as the Body of Christ is not any comparison. It goes well beyond a comparison. "Why do you persecute me?" Continuously Christ draws us inside his body, builds up his body from the center Eucharist, which for Paul is the center of Christian, under which all, as well as each individual can so everything personal experience: He has loved me and gave himself for me. Let me conclude with a word late of St. Paul, an exhortation to Timothy from prison, facing death. 'Suffering you together with me for the Gospel, "says the apostle to his disciple (2 Tim 1:8). This word, which is the end of routes flown dall'apostolo as a testament, refers back at the beginning of his mission. While, after his meeting with the Risen One, Paul was blinded in his home in Damascus, Ananias received a mandate to go from persecutor feared and impose their hands, because riavesse vision. In response to the Ananias that Saul was a persecutor of Christians dangerous, comes the answer: This man must bring my name before the people and kings. "I will as the show suffer for my name" (Acts 9.15 s). The assignment, and the call to suffering for Christ go together inseparably. The call to become the master of the nations is both intrinsically and a call to suffering in communion with Christ, who redeemed us through his Passion. In a world where deceit is powerful, the truth is paid with suffering. Who wants to evade suffering, keep it away from himself, takes away life itself and its greatness, can not be servant of truth and so servant of faith. There is no love without suffering - without suffering of abandoning oneself, processing and purification dell'io for true freedom. Wherever there is nothing that is worth it for that suffering, even life itself loses its value. The Eucharist - the center of our being Christians - is based in the sacrifice of Jesus for us, was born out of suffering, which in the Cross has found its culmination. Of this love that gives us live. It gives us the courage and strength to suffer with Christ and for Him in this world, knowing that as our lives become large and mature and true. In light of all the letters of St. Paul as we see in his journey of a teacher of the Gentiles has accomplished the prophecy made to Ananias at the hour of call: "I regard the show will suffer for my name." His suffering makes him credible as a master of truth, which does not seek one's own advantage, its glory, personal fulfillment, but is committed to the One who loved us and gave himself for us all. In this hour we thank the Lord, because he called Paul, making light of people and master of all of us, and we pray: Give us even today witnesses to the resurrection, affected by your love and capable of bringing the light of the Gospel in our time. St. Paul, pray for us! Amen.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nativity of Saint John the Baptist


THE birth of St. John was foretold by an angel of the Lord to his father, Zachary, who was offering incense in the Temple. It was the office of St. John to prepare the way for Christ, and before he was born into the world he began to live for the Incarnate God. Even in the womb he knew the presence of Jesus and of Mary, and he leaped with joy at the glad coming of the son of man. In his youth he remained hidden, because He for Whom he waited was hidden also. But before Christ's public life began, a divine impulse led St. John into the desert; there, with locusts for his food and haircloth on his skin, in silence and in prayer, he chastened his own soul. Then, as crowds broke in upon his solitude, he warned them to flee from the wrath to come, and gave them the baptism of penance, while they confessed their sins. At last there stood in the crowd One Whom St. John did not know, till a voice within told him that it was his Lord. With the baptism of St. John, Christ began His penance for the sins of His people, and St. John saw the Holy Ghost descend in bodily form upon Him. Then the Saint's work was done. He had but to point his own disciples to the Lamb, he had but to decrease as Christ increased. He saw all men leave him and go after Christ. "I told you," he said, "that I am not the Christ. The friend of the Bridegroom rejoiceth because of the Bridegroom's voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled." St. John had been cast into the fortress of Machærus by a worthless tyrant whose crimes be had rebuked, and he was to remain there till he was beheaded, at the will of a girl who danced before this wretched king. In this time of despair, if St. John could have known despair, some of his old disciples visited him. St. John did not speak to them of himself, but he sent them to Christ, that they might see the proofs of His mission. Then the Eternal Truth pronounced the panegyric of the Saint who had lived and breathed for Him alone: "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist"

Reflection.—St. John was great before God because he forgot himself and lived for Jesus Christ, Who is the source of all greatness. Remember that you are nothing; your own will and your own desires can only lead to misery and sin. Therefore sacrifice every day some one of your natural inclinations to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, and learn little by little to lose yourself in Him.

Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, p. 228 Benziger Bros. ed. [1894], at

Friday, June 13, 2008

Saint Anthony of Padua



IN 1221 St. Francis held a general chapter at Assisi; when the others dispersed, there lingered behind, unknown and neglected, a poor Portuguese friar, resolved to ask for and to refuse nothing. Nine months later, Fra Antonio rose under obedience to preach to the religious assembled at Forli, when, as the discourse proceeded, "the Hammer of Heretics," "the Ark of the Testament," "the eldest son of St. Francis," stood revealed in all his sanctity, learning, and eloquence before his rapt and astonished brethren. Devoted from earliest youth to prayer and study among the Canons Regular, Ferdinand de Bulloens, as his name was in the world, had been stirred, by the spirit and example of the first five Franciscan martyrs, to put on their habit and preach the Faith to the Moors in Africa. Denied a martyr's palm, and enfeebled by sickness, at the age of twenty-seven he was taking silent but merciless revenge upon himself in the humblest offices of his community. From this obscurity he was now called forth, and for nine years France, Italy, and Sicily heard his voice, saw his miracles, and men's hearts turned to God. One night, when St. Antony was staying with a friend in the city of Padua, his host saw brilliant rays streaming under the door of the Saint's room, and on looking through the keyhole he beheld a little Child of marvellous beauty standing upon a book which lay open upon the table, and clinging with both arms round Antony's neck. With an ineffable sweetness he watched the tender caresses of the Saint and his wondrous Visitor. At last the Child vanished, and Fra Antonio, opening the door, charged his friend, by the love of Him Whom he had seen, to "tell the vision to no man" as long as he was alive. Suddenly, in 1231, our Saint's brief apostolate was closed, and the voices of children were heard crying along the streets of Padua, "Our father, St. Antony, is dead." The following year, the church-bells of Lisbon rang without ringers, while at Rome one of its sons was inscribed among the Saints of God.

Reflection.—Let us love to pray and labor unseen, and cherish in the secret of our hearts the graces of God and the growth of our immortal souls. Like St. Antony, let us attend to this, and leave the rest to God.

Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894], at